Factors affecting the UK's weather and climate

Location

The UK lies in the 'battleground' between warm tropical air to the south and cold polar air to the north. As two distinctly different types of air battle for control over the mid-latitudes, the UK experiences contrasting and changeable weather.

The warm North Atlantic Drift significantly impacts the UK's climate. It carries warm water from the South Atlantic to the western shores of the UK. The prevailing south-westerly winds then spread these warmer conditions, giving the western parts of the country mild winters.

This diagram shows how the origin and journey of the air mass can affect the climate of the UK. For example, the polar maritime air mass originates in the poles and travels over the Arctic sea, therefore it brings cold and wet weather. The tropical continental air mass originates in the tropics and travels over land bringing hot and dry weather to the UK.

NE: Arctic - cold winters & summers, steady rain. SE: Continental - cold winters, warm summers, dry. SW: Tropical - mild winters & summers, rain. NW: Maritime - mild winters, cool summers, heavy rain.